22-23 June 2017: Union and Disunion in the 19th Century Conference

Union and Disunion in the Nineteenth Century Conference

22-23 June 2017 at Plymouth University

Registration is now open for this international conference, the second in a series organised by Plymouth University Nineteenth Century Studies (PUNCS).

It is timed for the first anniversary of the Brexit referendum, and brings together leading scholars from the United States, Britain and continental Europe, to explore the ‘long nineteenth century’ through the lenses of union and disunion.

The strong political dimension is clear from the fact that L’Union fait la force has been the motto of various nations, including, since 1830, the kingdom of Belgium; in its English-language version, the truism that ‘union is strength’ has been a conventional element of trade union iconography.

In the current climate – of anti-globalisation, Brexit, and the Trump presidency’s critique of such post-war international entities as the EU, NATO and the UN – the international conference ‘Union and Disunion’ offers a timely historical and interdisciplinary perspective on union and its antithesis.

The topics explored at the conference are varied: from the ‘disunion’ reflected in dysfunctional families in British cases of mariticide and infanticide; or the affective unions and separations during the ending of slavery in the United States; to union and disunion connected to organised religion, including efforts to disestablish state churches; or focused on cultural representation in imaginative literature and sculpture.

The conference’s episodes of violent disunion include war, civil war and imperial mutiny through research linked to the Crimean War, Indian Mutiny and American Civil War. Its perspective on trade unions involves bodies as varied as Cornishmen, London Jews, barristers and female servants.

Its geographical scale ranges from the micro and local levels (the union of the three towns of Plymouth and the history of Plymouth’s Union Street), to such international mechanisms for transoceanic or transnational union as steam-powered transport, and currency or customs unions.

With a cast ranging from Mormons to King’s Messengers, petit-bourgeois British tourists to members of type founders’ cartels and Lancastrian poets, Union and Disunion in the Nineteenth Century promises to be an important and exciting event. An associated transmedia exhibition will explore some of the conference themes.

Bookings for this event can be made through the Plymouth University estore.

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